Trainers Graham Motion and Todd Pletcher are each double-handed with talented maiden winners, all ready to take a giant step up while making just their second career start in the $200,000 With Anticipation (gr. II) Aug. 28 at Saratoga Race Course.
The 1 1/16-mile turf test for 2-year-olds attracted a field of nine, including one main-track-only entrant, and all but three are trying stakes company for the first time. The race is carded fifth on Thursday's card with an approximate post time of 2:37 p.m. EDT.
Motion will saddle both Hot Tin Roof and Strong Coffee in the With Anticipation, a race he won in 2011 with State of Play.
Speaking about the ambitious class jump, Motion said: "You kind of have to (move up), really. You don't have a lot of options. It seemed fairly logical to stay here and point for this race. The timing was good, and there was no real reason not to."
A More Than Ready colt owned by Stonestreet Stables, Hot Tin Roof captured his debut by 1 1/2 lengths July 30 on the all-weather surface at Presque Isle Downs and will stretch out from six furlongs.
Strong Coffee was impressive in his unveiling on Aug. 2 at Saratoga, drawing off to win by three lengths at the same course and distance of the With Anticipation. His half sister Rusty Slipper won the Violet (gr. IIT) Aug. 23 over the Monmouth Park turf.
"Certainly, he surprised me that he could win like that first time out," Motion said. "I thought he would run well; I didn't necessarily think he had to win, and certainly didn't expect him to win like that."
Motion had different plans for Strong Coffee when he first arrived at Saratoga.
"I actually brought him up here with the idea of running him on the dirt," he said. "I didn't think he handled the dirt up here that well when I worked him, so I took him over on the grass and he worked like a different horse. I have his half sister, so it wasn't a surprise.
"The thing about this horse that's so neat is he just has this really remarkable attitude. He's just a very kind of cool, laid-back horse and takes everything very well, so that helps him."
Jockey Rajiv Maragh rides Hot Tin Roof from post 2, while Irad Ortiz, Jr. and Strong Coffee will depart from outside post 9.
Pletcher is a three-time winner of the With Anticipation, including last year with Bashart. He goes for his fourth with Designed for War, a debut winner Aug. 9.
The Glencrest Farm homebred wired a field of 10 to win by 1 3/4 lengths under a hand ride from meet-leading jockey Javier Castellano. Pletcher isn't convinced the War Front colt needs to have the lead to be successful.
"He had a bit of a pace advantage that day and he was able to kind of get an easy lead, and was good enough to take advantage of it," Pletcher said. "It was just a result of the way the race unfolded, but we were pretty happy with the way he did it."
Designed for War had trained on both dirt and turf prior to his highly anticipated debut.
"He's a colt that showed promise all summer," Pletcher said. "We felt like, typical of some of the War Fronts that we've had, when we put him on the grass he showed some improvement. We thought he ran well."
Castellano gets a return call from post 6.
Pletcher also entered Blame Jim for the main track only.
Another horse with a win at the course and distance is Startup Nation, who scored by two lengths on Aug. 7 for trainer Chad Brown, whose Balance the Books captured the 2012 With Anticipation.
"He ran terrific in his first start," said Brown. "He came out of the race well and he's trained well since. We're looking forward to trying him in a stakes race. We've always liked the horse. He was training well leading up to his debut and we expected him to run well. He's a beautiful horse. He's got good mechanics and a great attitude. He's what you're looking for in a 2-year-old."
Joel Rosario will ride Startup Nation from post 1.
Rounding out the field are Kutuzov and Nutty Futty, maiden winners at Gulfstream Park on Aug. 2 and Aug. 16, respectively; Creaky Cricket, making his fourth start and third in a stakes for trainer Michael Dini; and International Star, a maiden winner on June 21 who ran second to Bustin It in the Rockville Centre Stakes on July 13, both at Belmont Park.
Saratoga Race Course, Thursday, August 28, 2014, Race 5
- Grade IIT
- 1 1/16m
- 2 yo
- 2:37 PM (local)
|1||1Startup Nation (NY)||Joel Rosario||120||Chad C. Brown||-|
|2||2Hot Tin Roof (KY)||Rajiv Maragh||118||H. Graham Motion||-|
|3||3Blame Jim (KY)||John R. Velazquez||118||Todd A. Pletcher||-|
|4||4Kutuzov (KY)||Shaun Bridgmohan||120||Gennadi Dorochenko||-|
|5||5Nutty Futty (KY)||Jose Valdivia, Jr.||120||Christopher Van Culin||-|
|6||6Designed for War (KY)||Javier Castellano||120||Todd A. Pletcher||-|
|7||7Creaky Cricket (FL)||Jose Lezcano||118||Michael Dini||-|
|8||8International Star (NY)||Rosie Napravnik||120||Michael J. Maker||-|
|9||9Strong Coffee (KY)||Irad Ortiz, Jr.||120||H. Graham Motion||-|